Saturday, July 12, 2014

Raw #160 - May 20th, 1996

Last night was an eventful house show at Madison Square Garden. The big news on Raw is that the Bodydonnas lost the tag team titles to the Godwinns. The bigger news, not mentioned on Raw, is that four members of the Clique gave a public farewell at the end of the show, leading to Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s burial over the next few months.
Steve Austin takes on “Wildman” Marc Mero to open a Raw lineup that looks like an In Your House card. Wrestling fans the world over are furious at Ted Turner for competing with WWF, forcing the company to put on solid television programming every week. Sable escorts Mero to the ring holding a whip and wearing an extra-revealing skin-tight leather body suit that Vince will probably call “classy” anyway. As the classy lady rubs Mero’s chest, Lawler advises viewers not to adjust their TVs, because “her face is out of focus.” it’s a nice change of pace from calling Sable ugly; dead-eyed, yes, but not ugly. I think what has held back Total Divas’ Eva Marie is the announcers’ failure to fawn over her classiness every single week. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin glares at Mero with the same cold stare as Sable, only intentionally. The two former WCW mid-carders open the match with chain wrestling, the action livening up when Mero hits a cross-body for a two-count. Mero tries for a somersault plancha over the top rope onto Austin, but Stone Cold moves out of the way, so Wildman lands on the apron, then flips back into the ring for the sake of being wild. Austin later hits a stun gun on Mero, dropping his face on the top turnbuckle. The action clunks along, with neither man gaining an advantage for longer than a few seconds, until Austin pulls Mero by the tights to the outside via a Clever Maneuver (#1).

After the break, Mero is back in the match, rolling up Austin for a two-count, but Austin quickly regains the advantage, locking Mero in the chinlock he should have been doing during the commercial break. McMahon’s new favorite word is “quadrant,” earlier referring to action last weekend in the “northeastern quadrant” of the U.S., and now talking about live events in the “southeastern quadrant,” presumably after studying that dictionary that Bob Backlund gave him and Randy Savage a few years back. There’s even a show taking place in North Charleston, “notwithstanding Savanna, Georgia.” Mero puts Austin in a sleeperhold, but Steve counters with a Maneuver (#2) that looks like an early version of the stunner. Mero survives thanks to the “words of wisdom and encouragement” from Sable. Jerry Lawler says that Austin will beat Savio Vega like a piƱata (which is Mexican) before Marc Mero takes down Stone Cold with a Maneuver (#3 - flying head scissors). After an axe-handle smash from the top, Mero scores a two-count, then gets tripped by DiBiase as he runs the ropes. This lets Steve climb the ropes for a High-Risk Maneuver (#4) but gets whipped with a Caribbean strap by Savio Vega, drawing a disqualification. Marc Mero, who is substantially darker than Savio Vega, is quite upset with the Puerto Rican legends.
Vince tells us more about the WWF’s recent tour of Kuwait, giving some history of the country and explaining how its people were “devastated” by Iraq’s invasion. This would seem a little more sincere were he not using the same word he uses to describe the effects of, say, the Slop Drop. The Kuwaitis seem to love Ahmed Johnson, who won the Kuwait Cup. This isn’t just hype, either; “Ahmed Johnson” is consistently the number-one Google search term leading to this blog, including searches conducted in Arabic. You can’t help but think the WWF is going to miss the boat on a huge international draw like Ahmed. Next week, Ahmed faces Vader (and Goldust faces the Warrior) in the first round of the King of the Ring tournament. This must be a mistake, says the 1996 viewer. He must mean “qualifying matches,” right? Nope. Since tournaments are tough sells due to the uncertainty of what matches will actually take place, Vince has changed the format of the tournament so that the first two rounds occur on TV, and only the final two rounds (and three matches) occur on the pay-per-view itself. This way, instead of a test of stamina and endurance won by athletes like Bret Hart, Owen Hart, and Mab— uh, Bret Hart, you’ll get a tournament final with Jake Roberts.

We get a plug for the Ultimate Warrior’s new comic book, which requires Vince to put over nonsense like, and I quote, “the evolution of destiny and the power of self-belief through the Warrior’s own belief system, known as ‘Destrucity,’” which Vince pronounces, “des-troo-city.” Jerry thinks Warrior should have commissioned him to do the artwork.
The same lone fan in the Savio Vega shirt from three weeks earlier cheers the Puerto Rican legend, who faces the 123 Kid tonight. Vince wonders whether the Kid, who is more ripped but as skinny as ever, can “upset” Vega. Maybe if the Kid can extend his limbs all the way across the ring like Dhalsim from Street Fighter II, who shares a physique with the perennial underdog. The Kid has the makings of his “Syxx” beard growing (or creeping) onto his face. Ted DiBiase shows off the chauffeur’s hat he’s going to make Vega wear should he lose the Caribbean strap match to Steve Austin (a match which could have been for the Intercontinental title, had Austin not cost Savio that). Savio hits the Kid with the same kind of Devastating Maneuver (#5 - spinning heel kick in the corner to the outside) that Kwang used to pull off regularly. DiBiase says that that won’t happen to Steve Austin, whom he calls the best technical wrestler in the WWF, which, prior to his neck injury, could possibly be true. In his obligatory topical pop culture reference of the evening, Lawler compares Savio’s chances against Austin to the new Tom Cruise movie, “Mission: Impossible.” Meanwhile, Vince harangues Dibiase for initially refusing Savio’s challenge for a return match “notwithstanding” Austin’s victory at Wrestlemania. DiBiase then distracts Vega by taunting him with the hat, allowing the Kid to roundhouse-kick Savio. DiBiase says that he’s going to need to get Savio a green card so he can be his chauffeur; DiBiase did not inherit his fortune until his adulthood and thus couldn’t afford a decent education as a child, explaining how he doesn’t know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. While the heel announcers joke about Puerto Ricans, the 123 Kid hits a Maneuver (#6 - splash) off the top rope, then puts him in a chinlock.

Dok Hendrix tells us to dial the WWF Superstar Line to hear the Ross Report about “locker room turmoil” at last night’s MSG show. I wonder what that could be about? The Kid still has the same chinlock on Vega, then hits him with a leg drop, which Vince claims is the best in the WWF. Usually the topic of “best leg drop” is reserved for PWI polls from the 80s. Kid whips Savio to the turnbuckles, but gets hit by a Maneuver (#7 - roundhouse kick) after charging him. Vega then hits a uranage and a baaack body drop before Kid shifts the momentum with — you’ll never guess — a kick. He then squanders this momentum by missing a spalsh and getting rolled up by Vega for a three-count. Stone Cold is soon on the scene, marking the first time he and the 123 Kid have been seen together at the same time. Austin then ties up Savio with the Caribbean strap so that DiBiase can place a chauffeur hat on him.
Clips from MSG are shown, although nothing from after the Shawn-Diesel main event. Sunny is seen leaving the Godwinns’ dressing room, where Phineas was alone. in her hand was a piece of paper — you don’t forget a thing like that. “What was Sunny doing in the locker room with Phineas?” wonders Vince, who had known exactly what she had been doing in the locker room with Shawn Michaels. Sunny taunted Phineas throughout the match as if to say, “You will never get this!” like Borat’s sister, but Phineas finally forced himself on Sunny with a kiss, then hit the Slop Drop on Zip to win the match and the tag team titles. Phineas may have been smitten with Sunny, but Henry turned his affections to referee Earl Hebner. At least I think that’s what’s going on in this photo. On Sunday night, therefore, the Godwinns and not the Bodydonnas will be defending against the Smoking Gunns.
Jim Ross conducts an interview with Paul Bearer in the dark in the aisle. The Undertaker, who can barely be seen, speaks from the casket, but is interrupted by Mankind, who shuts the lid and ties the coffin shut. Goldust keeps Paul Bearer at bay with his bizarreness. Mankind then goes to the back and retrieves a steel pole, which he used to dent the gold casket before tipping it over and beating on it some more.
Todd Pettengill promotes the WWF’s Attitude Adjustment Tour, the only house show tour to get a john Cena move named after it. Someone in the WWF even dug up a clip of Mr. Perfect saying, “What a Maneuver!” to use during the video package. The graphics show a teenage boy with a stupid haircut and idiotic expression on his face getting shock therapy, reflecting how WWF apparently thought about their fans. And you thought showing a kid in a Savio Vega t-shirt was insulting…

Jim Cornette is in the ring with attorney Clarence Mason and The Smiths, not to perform songs off the Meat is Murder album, but to announce a restraining order by Diana Smith against Shawn Michaels. This will prevent Shawn from coming to ringside for color commentary. Gorilla Monsoon then comes to the ring and inspects the legal document, then gives orders to Howard Finkel, who announces that Diana Smith must go backstage so that Shawn Michaels can perform… color commentary at ringside. Shawn passes by Diana on his way to the ring, blatantly violating the 100-yard restraining order in the process.
Shawn’s first order of business is to declare his respect for monogamy by insisting that he’d never get involved with a married woman. Jerry Lawler isn’t believing it, unironically calling him a womanizer with no respect for women. “It’s the hunt that excites you!” says Lawler, possibly mispronouncing that third word. He then brings up Pam Anderson, with whom Michaels denies sexual involvement, especially after finding out she was engaged (“like the gentleman that I am,” he says, also without irony, without adding, "and I didn't even get my buddies to put feces in her sandwich afterward"). Meanwhile, there is a match going on during the discussion of HBK’s sex life, with British Bulldog putting Roberts in a Boston crab. But back to Michaels… Lawler asks him if it was true that he had posed for Playgirl, and Shawn admits that he did and has “nothing to hide.” King makes no mention of his own, uh, questionable photos with his crown. Vince then uses the word, “notwithstanding” twice in the same sentence when describing Shawn’s recent string of matches. If this were The Room, now would be the part where Vince or Jerry asks, “Anyway, how is your sex life?” Shawn says that he will refute the allegations against him this Sunday in the ring, a non sequitur on par with Chris Brown somehow disproving all the “haters” who held his abuse of Rihanna against him by winning a Grammy Award. Diana comes back to ringside as the show goes to break.
Diana throws a cup of water at Shawn, who since he wouldn’t hit a woman, punches Jim Cornette. The show goes off the air as Bulldog attacks Shawn from behind, and we never find out who wins the match.

Final tally:

7 Maneuvers (Year total: 83)
4 Notwithstandings

1 comment:

  1. Black is what Steve Austin wears on the outside because black is how he feels on the inside.